I was in a few sessions this week where I spent time with small groups from our teams. In some cases it was one department, with folks at different levels. In those cases, I thought it was great the insights that lower level folks had and how much value they added to the process, and I could see those at lower levels paying extra attention to the folks at higher levels and making those mental notes about how they were thinking about problems.
In other cases, it was folks from different departments working on a strategic initiative. They demonstrated great collaboration by working together to get the best answer for the issue they were working on. They then showed leadership courage to come discuss their approach with me (skipping a layer of management), and ensure they were on the right track or to hear any additional views that might add to their considerations. They also exercised one of the best process improvement and project management tools around – the “scrum” – where you get together frequently to discuss the issue or problem and the solutions, instead of the “staff” waiting until they are “done” and the work product is “perfect” before showing it to “leadership.” As you can tell from all my quote marks, none of these things is really accurate when addressing business issues. The better approach is regular short interactions with draft work product in stages and sections along the way. I learned this lesson from David Marquet in the book “Turning the Ship Around.”
In a final example, we had teams from across multiple areas discussing their strategies for maximizing revenue/sales for each of their teams. By generating open dialog, the groups learned that many of their initiatives could go across teams. In this way, they would make better use of their time (two team members didn’t have to go “sell” to a group in separate meetings) and there may be leads that could be cross-populated between the teams to generate more sales.
I encourage all of my teams to keep thinking as a team, and working as a team, like you see in the examples above. Hopefully you can apply these principles in your teams as well.